Hail Columbia: Bioshock Infinite Takes Flight At 12:01 AM

Tomorrow morning, the long-awaited Bioshock Infinite will launch. Unlike the previous Bioshock titles, which focused on the doomed undersea city of Rapture, the new game takes place decades earlier -- and in the sky. In Bioshock Infinite, you play as Booker DeWitt, a former agent of the non-fictional Pinkerton Detective Agency. You're tasked with rescuing a young woman aboard the floating-air city Columbia. The game is set in 1912, rather than Rapture's late 1950s, which gives the product a definite steampunk motif.

Early previews and reviews have all been excellent, with multiple sources praising the art, plot, and gameplay. Players who prefer a particularly tough challenge may enjoy the game's "1999 Mode." The name is a hearkening back to System Shock 2, which came out in 1999, and according to Irrational Games Director Ken Levine, the entire experience has been redesigned. From the Irrational Games website:
Resource planning? If you’re to survive this mode, proper planning will be crucial. Combat specializations? You’ll need to develop them efficiently and effectively throughout the story; any weapon will be useless to you unless you have that specialization. Combat? You will need to carefully target every shot, and your health will be set to an entirely different baseline. Game saves? Well, yes, there will be those, but according to Irrational Games Creative Director Ken Levine “there are game saves, and you’re gonna f***ing need them.”
Specializations and capabilities won't be things you can reset, in other words -- once you choose to invest points in an ability, you're stuck with it. Choose carefully. But 1999 Mode is optional -- players who prefer to focus on the game's storyline will be able to do so.

Irrational Games released its own faux historical narration trailer on the creation of Columbia, which we covered back in January. The haunting rendition of "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" by Elizabeth's voice actor, Courtnee Draper is from several years back.

Ars Technica's review calls it "one of the best stories ever told through the gaming medium." It's also included for free if you pick up one of AMD's new Radeon 7790s -- a massive added bonus. We'll be back to you soon with our own review coverage.